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Author's profile photo Ricardo Garcia Cavero

Smart Management for SAP

Smart Management for SAP

Easily managing the SAP ecosystem

The SAP estate is at the core of a company because most of their departments run transactions in it, hence its great importance. SAP landscapes also tend to be very complex with lots of different products and solutions that interact with each other and with other applications that are external to them. This complexity can present real challenges when it comes to managing all the different servers that are part of this large ecosystem.

There is a big number of recommendations that the servers that host SAP workloads need to follow and this number keeps increasing when new versions of the products (like SAP HANA) are released so there is an absolute need to keep all SAP servers up to date so they are compliant with these recommendations and equally importantly, consistent across the estate.

Automating the lifecycle management of all the servers that constitute the SAP landscape is a huge advantage for customers since they will save a big amount of time that their Infrastructure, OS and SAP Basis teams can devote to new projects and initiatives instead of to routinary maintenance tasks and to solving incidents. The latter is a very important part of the Smart Management for SAP because the solution is not only about applying updates in the servers but also about preventing potential issues before they occur. So Smart Management constitutes an intelligent solution that greatly reduces the overhead of planning and performing maintenances and that of having to troubleshoot issues that could be prevented proactively.

 

What is inside the solution?

We can identify three different tiers in the solution, first of all the SAP landscape consistent of RHEL hosts registered with the RHEL for SAP Solutions subscription (which includes Smart Management and Insights – we will see these components more in detail later). The SAP hosts can reside on premise, on private cloud, on public cloud or on a mix (hybrid cloud).

The second tier is the infrastructure management with the Smart Management and the Automation Orchestration (or Ansible Automation Platform) components. The servers running these applications can either be on the same infrastructure as the SAP landscape (same cloud, data center, etc.) or elsewhere, so this provides more flexibility when choosing the location.

The other tier is the Red Hat’s SaaS which contains Insights services, Insights platform and Enterprise operating automation.

Logical%20design

Logical design

 

Let us take a closer look at the aforementioned components:

Smart Management

Red Hat Smart Management, which includes Satellite and Cloud Connector, provides the capability to gather anonymized configuration information from the SAP hosts and send that anonymized data to Insights Platform (on Red Hat’s SaaS). Satellite manages the lifecycle of the SAP servers, applying the packages, security fixes, etc., that they need to be compliant with SAP’s and Red Hat’s recommendations and consistent between them.

Red Hat Insights

 

Red Hat’s Insights platform receives the anonymized data of the SAP hosts from Smart Management and makes it available to the Insights services the customer is subscribed to. This is an  overview of each of the services now included with Insights:

 

  • The Advisor Insights service highlights availability, performance, and stability risks based on recommendations from Red Hat support experiences
  • The Vulnerability Insights service assesses, remediates and reports on Red Hat Enterprise Linux Common Vulnerability and Exposures (CVEs)
  • The Compliance Insights services assesses and monitors regulatory compliance, and is built on OpenSCAP which is an open source implementation of the SCAP standard
  • The Drift Insights service enables to create baselines and compare system profiles either to the baselines, or to other systems
  • The Policies Insights service allows to define and monitor against the customer’s own policies to identify any misalignment
  • The Patch analyzes the SAP systems for Red Hat product advisory applicability to help them stay up to date
  • And while not directly a part of Insights, all Red Hat Enterprise Linux customers also have convenient access to Subscription Watch to help them track progress of their Red Hat subscription usage efficiently and confidently

 

Insights has SAP specific rules based on SAP recommendations for the different versions of SAP HANA and SAP Netweaver based applications (like SAP S/4HANA). The anonymized data from the SAP hosts is compared against these rules and if any discrepancy is found (that would mean that an issue would potentially happen) it receives a remediation plan that will be sent back to Smart Management in order to prevent the occurrence of the issue. The Insights engineering team updates the SAP rule base when new recommendations are published by SAP.

 

Automation Orchestration

Red Hat Ansible Automation Platform is the framework  that is used in this solution to run the Ansible playbooks in the hosts that will correct the situations that could lead to a failure or issue, for example modifying a kernel memory parameter that can cause a bad performance of the SAP HANA DB or applying a certain level of an OS package that is needed for a particular version of SAP Netweaver.

 

Implementation of the solution

The prerequisites to implement the solution are the following:

  • All the servers that will host SAP workloads need to be registered with the RHEL for SAP Solutions subscription.
  •  Insights client will be deployed in all of them.
  • Smart Management will be deployed in the customer’s infrastructure (either in the same location/infrastructure where the SAP ecosystem is or in a different one).
  • Ansible Automation Platform will also be deployed in the customer’s infrastructure (either in the same location/infrastructure where the SAP ecosystem is or in a different one).

 

Below is a recommended deployment configuration.

Solution%20implementation%20with%20data%20flow

Solution implementation with data flow

 

And this is how the solution works:

  1. The SAP hosts send anonymized data to Smart Management by means of the Insights client.
  2. Smart Management sends this anonymized data to the Insights Platform.
  3. Insights Platform makes the data available to the Insights services that the customer is subscribed to.
  4. If there is any discrepancy with any of the SAP specific rules, the Enterprise operating automation provides a remediation plan back to Insights Platform.
  5. When Smart Management is ready to download the remediation plan from Insights, the Insights Platform converts the plan into a Remediation Playbook.
  6. Smart Management sends the remediation playbook to the Ansible Automation Platform.
  7. Ansible Automation Platform runs the remediation playbook in the target SAP RHEL host.

The solution is very easy to implement (even easier if Ansible playbooks are used for it) and it is a robust way to make sure that the SAP estate is always compliant with SAP’s recommendations and that all the servers are consistent in the level of their components.

Please let me know if you have worked with such a set up and share your experience.

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